Board and Senate Notes: October 2018
BOARD NOTES: Board hears reports from the Ombuds Office and the Office of Rights and Responsibilities
In his remarks at the Board of Governors meeting on October 24, 2018, Concordia President Alan Shepard referred to his full report, presented in the board materials, and provided a few important university updates.
Shepard reported that Concordia announced its new honorary doctorate recipients earlier that day: psychotherapist and philanthropist Miriam Roland, real estate developer and venture capital investor Luigi Liberatore, former Bell Canada executive Louis A. Tanguay (BComm 75), pioneering artist Meredith Monk and technology business leader Nathalie Pilon. They will be honoured at Concordia’s fall 2019 convocation ceremonies at Montreal’s Place des Arts on November 19.
The president told the board that Concordia’s Open House, held on October 20, was a huge success, as both campuses welcomed more than 6,000 visitors. Shepard thanked the students, faculty and staff who volunteered their time to help the event run smoothly.
He also announced that the university’s 2018 Centraide campaign kicked off on October. This year’s co-chairs are Nadia Bhuiyan, vice-provost of Partnerships and Experiential Learning, and Philippe Beauregard, chief communications officer, who was in attendance at the board meeting.
Ombuds Office presents its annual report
Amy Fish, Concordia’s ombudsperson, provided highlights from the Ombuds Office’s Annual Report 2017-18.
Fish reported that the Ombuds Office treated 469 files in 2017-18, down just one from 2016-17. Students brought forward about three quarters of the concerns. Slightly more than half the remaining files came from faculty and staff, and the balance were from others such as alumni and potential students.
While the number of cases remained steady from the year before, walk-ins dropped from 107 to 76. Clients contacted the office primarily via email, followed by telephone. Fish noted that they received one letter by mail.
She pointed out that the Ombuds Office’s busiest months over the past five years are April and May, during exam period and before graduation.
Without revealing names or specifics, Fish described two cases to illustrate the type of work done by the office.
In the first instance, when a student had to leave the university for personal reasons, the office was able to help the student return to Concordia and get the relevant credits transferred.
In the other example, the office informed a professor on how to manage a situation regarding the absence of a student.
Fish told the board she was happy to report no major problems during the year, and she also praised Concordia for its openness.
Office of Rights and Responsibilities presents its annual report
Director Lisa White presented highlights of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities’ Annual Report 2017-18.
White explained that the office focuses mainly on applying and/or administering the following policies:
- Code of Rights and Responsibilities (Code);
- Protocol on the Coordination of Urgent Cases of Threatening or Violent Conduct;
- Policy on Student Involuntary Leave of Absence;
- Policy on Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Psychological Harassment.
She reported that the office received 351 requests in 2017-18. Of those, 235 were consultations and 116 became cases; 26 of the cases were formal. All these numbers were up from recent previous years.
White revealed that the most reported Code infraction was harassment followed by sexual harassment.
She presented three case examples: one involved the sexual harassment of a student; the second was about the harassment of a staff member by a co-worker; and the final concerned a student placed on a leave of absence due to mental health issues. All the cases were resolved satisfactorily with the assistance of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities and internal partners.
In his remarks at the Senate meeting on October 5, Concordia President Alan Shepard said the $15-million gift by engineer and business leader Gina Cody, announced on September 24, was an historic moment for the university.
In recognition of Cody’s generosity and achievements in the field, Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science has been renamed the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science. It is the first university engineering faculty in Canada to be named after a woman.
The president noted that this year’s Shuffle on September 28 raised more than $100,000 for student scholarships and bursaries. At Concordia’s Homecoming, two milestones were celebrated: the first BEng was conferred 50 years ago by Sir George Williams University, one of Concordia’s founding institutions, and the John Molson School of Business MBA program turned 50.
In his academic update to Senate, Provost and Vice-President Academic Graham Carr referred Senators to his written report, which highlights many initiatives and accomplishments of both faculty and students.
Carr noted that the John Molson School of Business and Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton are launching the Person of the Year Awards to celebration Quebec entrepreneurs.
He also drew attention to an oral history conference being hosted by the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, from October 10 to 14.
Accelerated Career Experience Option under Co-op Program approved
A proposal presented by the Institute for Co-operative Education to add the new option, Accelerated Career Experience, was approved by Senate.
This option will provide an extended internship of 12 to 16 continuous months, offering a unique and valuable learning experience. It will be managed with a lens of ‘smart growth’ by starting small and only growing in conjunction with industry and student demand.
Presentation on Concordia’s digital strategy
Vice-Provost of Digital Strategy and University Librarian Guylaine Beaudry presented an update on the development of the university’s digital strategy. This is one of the transformation projects included in the larger Strategic Directions Initiative.
She provided an overview of the findings of the public consultation activities with students, faculty and staff, conducted between February and March 2018. These included group discussions, individual interviews and creative workshops, as well as a student survey.
Concordia also conducted an environmental scan that examined the characteristics of effective digital strategies.
“One of the common themes that emerged from our consultations and environmental scan is the need to put people before technology,” says Beaudry.
“We need to think differently about our users, and that is why we are focusing on a user-experience approach. It’s key to place users at the centre of our efforts to be digital. It’s also important for us to understand that the transformation to creating a truly digital culture is an ongoing journey.”
Among the key findings from the student survey, shared with Senate, were:
- 78 per cent of student respondents rated the university as good or above average regarding the quality of Concordia’s digital environment, including software, hardware and the learning environment;
- 84 per cent said they could access reliable Wi-Fi whenever they need it on campus;
- Only 37 per cent agreed that the university helps them to stay safe online;
- 34 per cent believed the university protects their data privacy;
- 29 per cent said their program prepares them for the digital workforce; and
- 49 per cent would like more technologies used in their courses.
“As a teaching, learning and research institution, we must be responsive to these emerging trends if we are going to equip our students with the skills and knowledge to thrive in this new environment,” said Beaudry.
She also unveiled the draft shared vision and roadmap, which consists of 11 proposed projects. These projects address some of the key findings from the consultation activities. They are grouped in five categories: people: digital skills and capabilities; improving processes and services: users at the centre; teaching and learning; collaboration capacity; and data: use and access.
Students, faculty and staff are invited to provide feedback on the draft shared vision and proposed projects by November 9.
Ad hoc committee created to review Senate eligibility requirements
Following a presentation by representatives from the Concordia Student Union, Senate approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to review Senate eligibility requirements.
This includes reviewing the eligibility requirements of students who are elected to Senate but have conditional standing. Currently, students elected to Senate must be in acceptable academic standing.
The Senate Steering Committee will establish the ad hoc’s mandate and membership composition.